Folk Alliance Australia: Giving young folk artists a kickstart to their career

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Folk Alliance Australia: Giving young folk artists a kickstart to their career

If you’ve heard of Melbourne’s acoustic duo The Bean Project, it’s partly due to the Folk Alliance Australia and their National Showcase which aims to highlight young and emerging folk artists. Held at the National Folk Festival in Canberra every Easter, eight acts are selected from a number of applications from all over Australia to perform, leading to one lucky act chosen as Young Act of the Year.

Folk Alliance Australia, who is the peak body for folk industry (including artists, folk festivals, managers, venues, clubs and associations), works with the selected act for the year to prepare and assist them with their launch into the music scene, while simultaneously developing the folk industry.

President of Folk Alliance Australia Una McAlinden has worked intensively with The Bean Project over the past year, and says the showcase program is a great opportunity for young emerging artists who do need help in kickstarting their career.

“We’ll meet and we’ll have a plan of attack, and basically support them for the whole year and really try and get their wish list happening. If they’re [the artist/band] trying to tour the US or Canada or break into European markets, we will work with them to try and pick up an agent or a publishing deal, whatever they’re looking for. We make sure they are ready for that next step in their career.

“We just look at different options for how we can make things happen for them for the year. Once they move on, they’ve always been ready to go to the next stage after they’ve finished the year.”

Like The Bean Project, past acts that have been involved in the National Showcase include the likes of Melbourne’s folk/pop duo Oh Pep!, The Mae Trio, Rowena Wise (runner-up to Oh Pep!), Kaurna Cronin, and Kaurna & Tom Kneebone. Through the Folk Alliance’s work, Oh Pep! were signed up to a manger, signed up to publishing and started touring in the US, Canada and Europe.

As part of the development program, Folk Alliance Australia have partnered with mainstream events to try and get the folk scene represented in events like the Australian Music Week, along with their work overseas, partnering with Folk Alliance International over the last three years, furthering the opportunities for the young folk artists involved.

“We’ve actually just come back from Kansas in USA where Folk Alliance showcased young artists,” McAlinden explains. “We got them [Australian young acts] ready for this major conference in Kansas which brings people together from all over the world, and we ran a showcase room where we showcased 12 Australian acts with the aim of supporting them and trying to break them into an international market.

“It’s getting stronger and stronger and the fact that we have a partnership with the US where we’ve now whoever our young artist of the year is will automatically be able to go which is an amazing opportunity.”

The next Young Act of the Year will be announced over Easter at the showcase at the National Folk Festival in Canberra.

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Written by Talia Rinaldo